Much of what Edward Snowden has revealed was suspected, but the reality of the NSA's surveillance is nonetheless shocking. That's the view of Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the National ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. Stanley is lead speaker during the afternoon portion of the ACLU-VT's Surveillance Conference Oct. 30 in Montpelier. He appeared Thursday on the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV.

Snowden has been a “one-man Church Commission,” Stanley said, a reference to the congressional investigation commission in the 1970s that led to reforms of the nation’s intelligence activities.

He pointed out that we have known practically nothing of how the NSA – National Security Agency – operates. The public hasn’t even had access to the court decisions that have set the rules by which the NSA runs surveillance operations.

Radio show host Johnson asked about what he perceives a lack of outrage about government surveillance, even after Snowden’s detailed accounting of numerous privacy abuses committed by the NSA. Stanley answered that people get concerned about privacy when it affects them directly – like with the discredited Facebook “Beacon” program. Some surveillance programs can seem abstract at first, but they are crucial to privacy issues. When people see their impact, they get upset.

Asked what he thought what current technology is the most invasive of privacy, Stanley thought a moment and said, “It might be cell phones. If you had said 40 years ago that in 2013 everyone would be carrying a tracking device that constantly shows their whereabouts, people would have said, ‘It’s over. We must have lost the Cold War.”

More information on the Surveillance Conference, including registration, can be found at The conference is free and open to the public.